If you scour the internet, it’s difficult to find a definitive explanation of what it means to have a “breakthrough” in therapy. Yet, despite not having a conclusive definition, breakthroughs are something clinicians and patients strive to achieve in sessions all the time.
In reality, breakthroughs in therapy are different for everyone. Understanding what a breakthrough looks like to you can help you notice if you’re progressing and the work, time and money you’re putting into therapy is actually paying off.
“Sometimes breakthroughs occur on a cognitive level like an ‘aha’ moment, and sometimes, they’re more visceral — like finally understanding something deep within you,” Bianca L. Rodriguez , a licensed psychotherapist, told HuffPost.
From a therapist’s point of view, a breakthrough is “when a patient finally realises what we realised six months ago. It’s like a lightbulb going off,” said Kati Morton , a millennial mental health specialist and author of “ Are u ok?: A Guide to Caring for Your Mental Health .”
Though breakthroughs are often thought of as these huge, cinematic moments, both Rodriguez and Morton agree that they can be much more subtle — like adopting a new, healthy coping skill, or making a small step toward a goal you’ve been trying to achieve in therapy for months.
Furthermore, these “aha” moments tend to look different from person to person, and from session to session. Breakthroughs in therapy are, in the simplest of terms, small or large enlightening moments that mean you’re making progress.
“They always alter the way a person understands themselves and the world. It’s like something clicks, and you gain a deeper understanding of yourself that serves your growth and healing,” Rodriguez said. “It’s a shift in perception.”